We often hear that if you want to know what a woman will look like, years down the line, it’s a good idea to meet her mother and that should give you some clues. Another piece of advice that we often hear, as women, is that when you want to pick a husband, take a look at how a man treats his mother and feels about her and that will let you know how he is likely to teat you and feel about you.
It turns out that being curious about mothers is actually a good idea, especially when it comes to health and wellness.
Often, it isn’t until children have grown and the tables have turned that mom’s own health background is thrust into the spotlight, when suddenly she is no longer the caretaker.
Knowing about the major health moments in her life can certainly help you provide the best care as a grown child — and to take the best care of yourself. “Your mother’s adverse health history need not adversely affect you,” says Christiane Northrup, M.D., board-certified ob/gyn. “Instead of seeing your mother’s health as a sentence, see your mother’s health as an opportunity to improve in the next generation.”
These questions likely aren’t the topic of Mother’s Day brunch conversation. But they are worth asking — and worth asking soon, for both of you.
How’s Your Heart?
The genetic risk for heart disease is high — and it’s still the number one killer of women. While you’re likely to know about any major cardiovascular events in mom’s life, like a heart attack, you might not know that high blood pressure runs back three or four generations in your family. “If you know your mom has had a heart attack, and certainly if she’s had a heart attack before the age of 60, that increases your risk anywhere from 25 to 50 percent,” says Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director of the Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “Then, act on it,” she says. Figure out if you personally have high blood pressure and ask your doctor for the necessary tests to determine if you have high cholesterol or diabetes. Incorporate more heart-healthy foods into your regular diet, and be sure to get the recommended two and a half hours of aerobic physical activity a week.